By Ayse Humeyra Atilgan and Meltem Bulur
Turkey welcomes Iran's "close cooperation" in the fight against the PKK terrorist group, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Thursday.
The PKK -- listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the EU and U.S. -- has killed more than 1,200 Turkish security personnel and civilians since July 2015.
Addressing a joint press conference with Iran’s First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri in capital Ankara, Yildirim said: "We appreciate and care about Iran's close cooperation in conducting an effective fight against the PKK terrorist group, which has been a headache for Turkey for the last 40 years."
The two leaders discussed the latest developments in Syria and Iraq, and other regional and international issues in their closed-door meeting at Cankaya Palace.
About the recent illegitimate independence referendum in northern Iraq, Yildirim said Iran and Turkey shared "the same sensitivity" and their cooperation over the issue "will continue comprehensively".
"Turkey and Iran's priority in the region is to work together and prevent attempts at establishing artificial states on their borders that will harm the countries' stability."
He said the illegitimate referendum would not bring "a better future to all ethnicities [present in the region], including Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Ezidi, Asuri and many others."
Jahangiri called the referendum in northern Iraq “invalid" and said all regional countries had supported the central Baghdad government on the issue.
Last month’s illegitimate referendum had faced strong opposition from several international and regional actors, including Iran and Turkey, who had warned the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the region.
Problems of Islamic world
The leaders of the two countries once again confirmed that they were against any attempt to violate the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria.
The Iranian vice president also underlined the "serious problems of the Islamic world", saying Islamic countries need to work “hand-in-hand" to find solutions to such problems.
Referring to the role of "certain international powers" behind the crisis in the region and "plots to divide the countries", he said Turkey, Iran, and Iraq "have definitely the strength to ruin those plots."
The leaders also discussed the bilateral trade between Turkey and Iran.
The Turkish premier said the trade volume between the two countries, which currently stands at $12 billion, was quite below the $30 billion goal.
Jahangiri agreed on the potential of fulfilling the trade goal. A trade fair will be organized in Istanbul to promote investment opportunities in Iran for Turkish investors next week, he added.
The two leaders also highlighted the significance of the mutual decision to trade in national currencies, saying it would develop investment, trade and cooperation opportunities.
The issue as well as other bilateral economic relations will be handled in more detail during an upcoming Joint Economic Commission meeting in November.
Jahangiri is scheduled to attend the Developing-8 Countries (D-8) meeting in Istanbul on Friday.